Senior Reece Human, an offensive guard and defensive tackle, said last year’s 41-0 first-round loss to Brookville was painful.
“I think that definitely fueled our fire a little bit in the offseason,” Human said. “Everybody made some big gains in the weight room. We believe in our ability. I think we fit very well as a team and as a family.”
“This being my second year at Carlisle, the community support of hosting a playoff game is just through the roof,” Brown said. “The people in the community and the school are making this a really special thing for these kids.”
Both teams are 8-2, though Carlisle is riding an eight-game winning streak.
Greeneview, under the direction of sixth-year coach Neal Kasner, took second place in the Ohio Heritage Conference behind Mechanicsburg.
The Rams have only been to the playoffs twice, but they’ve gone 1-1 each time they’ve been there the last two years.
“We’ve got a lot of good, hard-working kids,” Kasner said. “It’s a fun group to work with. I think our kids will be ready to go. I think we’ll start fast, and then maybe we can hang around and gain some confidence as we go.”
Like the Indians, Greeneview prefers to keep the ball on the ground most of the time.
The Rams don’t have a backfield horse, relying on balance between senior quarterback Collin Matt (73 carries, 485 yards, 11 TDs), junior Jacob Green (98 carries, 664 yards, 10 TDs), junior Griffin Mangan (63 carries, 474 yards, six TDs) and senior Austin Roberts (52 carries, 345 yards, six TDs).
Matt has found some aerial success as well, completing 51 of 92 passes for 808 yards and 14 touchdowns with two interceptions. Ethan Bradds, a 6-foot-5, 253-pound tight end, has committed to Eastern Kentucky University.
Greeneview provides plenty of looks offensively, using spread, two-back and I-formation alignments. The Rams are scoring 39.9 points per game and allowing an average of 14.8.
“I think four of their five offensive linemen are seniors,” Brown said. “They’ve got smart and disciplined football players. Offensively, they’re sharp. They know what they want to do.”
Kasner said his 3-4 defense is built around senior nose guard Isaiah Harding (6-0, 242). Bradds is an outside linebacker.
That defense got gashed in losses to unbeaten Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (41-22) in Week 1 and Mechanicsburg (40-7) in Week 9.
“They were able to get some big-play runs on us, so hopefully we learned from that,” Kasner said. “That’s obviously a concern because Carlisle’s very good offensively. We can shut down our scout team pretty good, but I don’t know how much of that is going to carry over to Saturday.
“We’re pretty big up front for the OHC, but once we get into the Division V playoffs, we’ve got a bunch of munchkins out there. But we’ve got some stocky kids, and they’re fairly athletic.
“I think offensively we can run the ball a little bit and do some things there, but I don’t think we can do enough offensively to get in a track-meet football game. If we’ve got to score 40 to win, I don’t think we’re going to win. And we have to defend the run and their speed. If we don’t keep them contained, we’re not going to catch them.”
For the Indians, senior halfback Ridge Reed (129 carries, 1,445 yards) is on track to play Saturday after missing last week’s game because of nagging ankle problems.
Everybody knows Carlisle wants to run the ball, but Brown said he’s got confidence in junior quarterback Jake Moore too. Moore is 25 of 45 for 434 yards and nine touchdowns.
“We don’t want to be one-dimensional, and we’re not going to bang our heads against the wall if they’re doing a good job of slowing us down running the ball,” Brown said. “We’ll be more than happy to throw it around a little bit.”
The Carlisle-Greeneview winner will play either Coldwater or Brookville next Saturday at a neutral site.
What: Division V, Region 20 quarterfinal, Greeneview (8-2) at Carlisle (8-2), 7 p.m.
Where: Laughlin Field, 250 Jamaica Road, Carlisle
Greeneview playoff history: 2-2 record in two appearances (2014, 2015)
Carlisle playoff history: 1-7 record in seven appearances (1980, 1984, 2001, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2015)